Tuesday, March 21, 2006

tramps like us

5 days in missouri, oklahoma, texas and kansas; this is what i learned.

1. chicken fried steak is neither chicken nor steak. talk amongst yourselves.

2. i have always thought i didn't like beer. i had my first taste at a teenage house party in milton keynes, england. it was from a one liter screwtop plastic bottle, and was sipped tentatively out of a porcelain teacup. it was flat and acrid; i was 14 and it was a bad beginning for me and beer. i spent the next 16 years or so avoiding it altogether, making rare exceptions for a stella artois on a hot summer night. st. louis' microbrew, schlafly, tasted surprisingly good to me. it turns out i like hefeweisen (and also their pale ale).

3. this does not sound like a recipe for success: take some meat, dry it out until it looks like a piece of leather. cure it in 3 kinds of sugar and a pint of jim beam. and yet! driving through oklahoma, a piece of jerky is just the thing to keep your mouth company as you gaze at the farmland.

4. the back of a pick-up truck is a great place to eat lunch. better if the car is not moving.

5. when southerners get their panties in a twist about barbecue, it is hard for a northern girl to relate. i'll wax rhapsodic about pizza or bagels but i've never had barbecue that helped me understand what all the fuss is about. in kansas city-- on what i imagine was the "wrong side of the tracks" in kansas city, at LC's, i was shown the light.

the smoker doors were black and greasy and every time they were opened a giant waft of smoke and bbq flavor engulfed the place. j and i giggled with anticipation at the sight of the giant hunks of meat smoking away on the stacked racks. when j picked up his "mixed plate" and my "short end," piled high on slices of wonder bread, a jolly woman beside us laughed and said "my boy is the same way: skinny as a rail but he sure can pack it away."

to the background sounds of "wheel of fortune" we slobbered and smacked and groaned and moaned. i swear i have never tasted baked beans before that night, (they may have been called "baked beans," but they were a sham) and i was grateful for a travel mate who understood the need for a journey to find a dinner like that. NOW i have had bbq, and i'll happily reciprocate if any of those kansans want to come to town and have, say, an H and H bagel.

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